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White House Demands McCarthy Reveal “Hidden Bargains” Made to Win Speakership

The American people deserve to know about “hidden bargains” McCarthy made to become speaker, the White House said.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy conducts a news conference in the U.S. Capitols Statuary Hall on January 12, 2023.

A deal struck by far right members of the GOP House caucus and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) to provide him enough votes to become Speaker of the House remains largely hidden, its aspects still unknown to the general public, nearly two weeks after he was appointed to the role.

The way in which the American people have not been informed of the terms of the deal is problematic, the White House has said, adding that McCarthy and his Republican allies ought to release those details in the interest of transparency, especially with voters.

It took 15 ballots for McCarthy to become speaker earlier this month — the first time multiple ballots were required to elect someone to that role in 100 years. Although Republicans have a majority in the House, around 20 Republicans refused to support McCarthy, who was chosen as GOP leader prior to the vote, unless he agreed to concessions on a number of issues.

Some aspects of the deal McCarthy made with those Republicans have likely come to light — a promise to hold a floor vote on a contentious tax proposal called the Fair Tax Act (which would eliminate the IRS, end income taxes and impose a 23 percent regressive federal sales tax) appears to be one part of the deal, for example. Promises to try to impose cuts on Social Security and Medicare, and to enforce strict rules in order to raise the debt ceiling, appear to be another part of what McCarthy has agreed to. The deal also likely included the restrictive abortion provisions that were incorporated in the House rules package that passed last week.

But McCarthy and the GOP caucus have been mum on what else the deal might include. McCarthy, responding to Politico over questions about the deal, refuses to acknowledge that such a deal between him and the far right members of his caucus even exists.

“There’s not a side deal to anything,” he said.

Yet members of the far right bloc that initially obstructed his appointment to speaker say otherwise, telling Politico and many other publications that the deal is real. According to Punchbowl News, for example, McCarthy and the far right legislators agreed to a “secret three-page addendum” in order for him to secure enough votes for the speakership.

In a statement he gave earlier this week, Deputy White House Press Secretary Andrew Bates said that McCarthy and the GOP ought to be forthcoming about the deal, noting that many in the Republican Party have been critical of the Biden administration for supposedly not being transparent on other issues.

“An unprecedented tax hike on the middle class and a national abortion ban are just a glimpse of the secret, backroom deals Speaker McCarthy made with extreme MAGA members to end this month’s chaotic elections and claim the gavel,” Bates said in his statement. “The few agreements we know about would fundamentally reshape our economy in a devastating way for working families and criminalize women for making their own health care decisions.”

“What other hidden bargains did Speaker McCarthy make behind closed doors with the most extreme, ultra MAGA members of the House Republican conference?” Bates added. “The American people have a right to know — now — which is why we are calling on him to make every single one of them public immediately.”

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